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6 Ways to Get Out of Your Travel Bubble (and Why It’s a Good Idea)


During my many trips scouting itineraries for Llama Expeditions, I have met a number of people who travel in a bubble. The bubble is a way to re-create the familiar experience of home abroad. It allows you to bypass the inevitable discomfort of anything foreign.

The problem with traveling in a bubble is that you sacrifice some of the benefits of going on an adventure in a foreign country for the sake of staying in your comfort zone. It will be comfortable for sure. But, it won’t be especially memorable.

And, I don’t know about you, but when I was in my travel bubble, everywhere I went started to look suspiciously the same. Nowhere and no one really captured my imagination, made me question my perspective, or even more importantly, touched my heart. (more…)

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Quintessential Peru: 10 Iconic Experiences

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

Whenever I plan a trip to a new destination, I like to include the can’t-be-missed experiences that characterize that area. If you are planning a trip to Peru, these are the top 10 experiences you should make sure to include.

Ancient ruins. Machu Picchu, Peru’s most famous ancient ruins, draws droves of tourists from the world over. The country is rife with ancient ruins, though, some dating back to centuries before Christ.

Worth seeing and on the beaten path are the four archeological sites on the outskirts of Cusco, Pachacamac a little over an hour’s drive from Lima, and the ruins at Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

If you are willing to hike, you can visit the remote ruins of Huchuy Cusco. This Inca town, whose name means “Little Cusco,” is believed to have been constructed by an early Inca emperor to mark the conquest of a nearby rival tribe. Today, it’s best known for its impressive number of stone buildings and commanding views of the Sacred Valley. (more…)

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Are You Missing Out?

Amantani home stay

“Now that I’ve gotten to a certain age, I really like my creature comforts,” a friend recently admitted in response to hearing about some of my adventures creating itineraries for Llama Expeditions.

I completely understood. Long before I reached that certain age, I too had grown to like my creature comforts. My vacations generally consisted of staying in tastefully decorated B&Bs and doing nothing that would make me break sweat except maybe lying on the beach.

For some reason, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t handle anything more adventurous. And, I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around the idea of being voluntarily uncomfortable.

Then, a divorce turned my world upside down. My entire life felt uncomfortable. In fact, I had the disorientating sensation of having woken up in someone else’s life. The process of adjusting to this new normal had me re-thinking all of my assumptions about who I was and how I fit in. (more…)

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How to Stop Looking Like a Tourist (and Why You Should Want to)

hiking boots

A couple of weeks ago, I went on an urban hike in my home city of San Francisco with my friend Carlos. Uncharacteristically, Carlos was late. So, I perched myself on the steps of the Ferry Building to do some people watching while I waited.

I immediately spied two tourists waiting for their guide to arrive. They could have been from anywhere. But, I was certain they weren’t from here.

How did I know they were tourists? They wore the typical tourist uniform of hiking pants paired with hiking boots. All over the world, in the most modern of cities, this is what tourists wear and they stick out like sore thumbs.

The problem with sticking out as a tourist is that it makes you an easily visible target for pickpockets, thieves, and less-than-honest taxi drivers. (more…)

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3 Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Peru (That You Probably Can’t Find on the Internet)

Clouds at Machu Picchu

Planning a trip to Peru? Here are three things you should definitely consider that you probably can’t find on the internet.

1. Altitude. Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, and Puno, home to the Uros floating islands are both very high. Un-medicated, most people suffer symptoms of altitude sickness that range from a splitting headache to an upset stomach.

Whenever possible, you want to plan your trip to move from lower to higher altitudes so that you can acclimatize as you go. For example, you might start at sea level in Lima, then travel to Cusco before continuing to Puno. (more…)

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Best and Worst Times to Hike the Inca Trail

inca trail

The Inca Trail has become so popular that you need to reserve your spot at least six months ahead. In fact, I just had someone contact me to hike the Inca Trail in three months. Unfortunately, the dates he wanted had been sold out for months.

To help you with the advance planning necessary, here are the two best times to hike the Inca Trail.

Summer. June, July, and August are the most popular months to hike the Inca Trail. While it gets quite cold at night, the days tend to be warm and sunny, making it a perfect time to hike.

Spring and fall. April and May as well as September and October are good times to hike, too. There is a slightly increased chance of rain, but it is not quite as cold at night.

Winter. December through February is the worst time to hike the Inca Trail. This is the rainy season in Peru during which torrential rainstorms cause dangerous mudslides. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance the entire month of February.

I would strongly recommend against hiking the Inca Trail during the rainy season unless you are a glutton for punishment or a frog.


Get Your Inca Trail Survival Guide!

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Cool Things to Do in Peru Besides Machu Picchu

Cool Things to Do in Peru Besides Machu Picchu

While Machu Picchu is Peru’s main attraction, it is not the only interesting thing to do in Peru. See below for ideas on other cool things to see and do during your Peru vacation.

Lake Titicaca – A short boat ride from the port in Puno, lie the floating Uros islands. The islands themselves, homes, schools, churches, watch towers, even boats are all constructed of tortora reeds. While this destination has become more touristy in recent years, it is still an incredibly interesting experience. (more…)

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Is Peru Dangerous? 10 Tips to Stay Safe

Is Peru Dangerous 10 Tips to Stay Safe

I recently met a friend for tea who I hadn’t seen in a number of years. When I suggested she travel with us at Llama Expeditions to Peru, she was worried. Like many people, she wondered if it was safe to vacation in Peru.

It seems like everyone thinks everyone else’s country is dangerous. It makes sense. When we travel to a foreign country, we lack the cultural awareness to instinctively recognize signs of danger. (more…)

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6 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking a Guided Tour of Peru

6 Mistakes to Avoid When Booking a Guided Tour of Peru

When I first went to Peru, my dad and I signed up for a guided tour. We lucked out! We saw what we wanted to see, did what we wanted to do, stayed in hotels that were just right, and paid a price within our budget. In addition, we got along well with and enjoyed the company of the other people on the tour.

I didn’t realize that our beginner’s luck was a fluke until I participated in a tour that wasn’t such a good fit. There were times when I couldn’t wait to go home. Based on my experience, here are six mistakes to avoid when booking your guided tour of Peru. (more…)

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5 Really Cool Places to See in Peru

5 Really Cool Places to See in Peru

Whenever I am planning a vacation, my biggest challenge is always figuring out what to see and do. I look for sites that are unique, interesting, or significant or offer something that I haven’t seen or done before.

If this is your first time visiting Peru, I recommend that you include the following places on your itinerary.

Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu is Peru’s crown jewel. It is both a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

Exploring Machu Picchu is a bit like wandering through an Inca ghost town. Stone buildings, winding staircases, still functioning aqueducts, and farming terraces hint at what life must have been like during the time of the Incas. (more…)

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